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Organized Village of Kake v. United States Department of Agriculture

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20067
Nos. 11-35517, (9th Cir., 03/26/2014)

The Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court decision invalidating a 2003 USDA regulation that temporarily exempted Alaska's Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. USDA clearly acknowledged that its 2003 record of decision, which excluded the Tongass from the Roadless Rule, is inconsistent with its previous Roadless Rule, which included the Tongass. But USDA articulated a number of legitimate grounds for temporarily exempting the Forest in the record of decision. The record of decision explained that it created the Roadless Rule exemption to cease litigation, meet timber demand, and decrease socioeconomic hardships on isolated Alaskan communities. These grounds, as well as USDA's reasoning in reaching its decision, were neither arbitrary nor capricious. On remand, however, the lower court must decide whether a supplemental EIS is required since it never reached that issue in the first instance.